About Pilates

Pilates is a holistic exercise system designed to elongate, strengthen and restore the body to balance; so much more than just building a 'strong core' or 'perfect posture'.

Exercises involve the whole body and are performed on spring-assisted apparatus or a mat, sometimes utilising small equipment.

Pilates is effective as it addresses underlying structural imbalances in the body which can create on-going pain and difficulty with movement. The whole body is considered. Lengthened and strengthened muscles improve posture and overall fitness and retrain dysfunctional movement patterns, restoring optimum physical function.

Regardless of age, ability or fitness level, Pilates is beneficial for everyone.

Regular practitioners of Pilates feel a heightened sense of awareness and ease in their bodies, experiencing less pain and increased mobility. This freedom ultimately leads to increased satisfaction in life!

"The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit." - Joseph Pilates

It is this holistic approach that sets Pilates apart from many other forms of exercise. Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and General Practitioners recommend Pilates as one of the most effective forms of exercise today.

Look Better. Feel Better. Live Better.

The Benefits

Using gravity, breath and spring resistance, Pilates uses whole body movement targeting specific muscle groups to re-educate movement patterns and rebalance the underlying muscular and structural systems in body.

When long-standing patterns shift, practitioners feel an increased sense of freedom in their bodies and lives.

"If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young." - Joseph Pilates

Poor posture and alignment (how our body parts function in relation to each other) and imbalanced muscular tensions (from habit or injury) are corrected by performing specific, controlled movements under the watchful eye of a qualified Pilates Teacher.

Pilates can help you:

  • Improve your posture, health and overall fitness
  • Reach specific physical goals and challenge your athletic ability
  • Rehabilitate after injury, surgery or illness
  • Return your body to movement
  • Expand your body awareness
  • Develop trust in your body's abilities
  • Look better, feel better, live better
  • Live a happier, more-fulfilling life

Pilates aids in the rehabilitation of many specialised conditions including: Pregnancy, Sports Injuries, Spinal Conditions and Disc Issues, Hip & Knee Replacement, MS, Parkinson’s, RSI.

Based upon an anatomical understanding of the body's muscular and skeletal systems, the Pilates Foundation Teacher creates a comprehensive exercise programme specific to each client. This ensures sessions are effective in helping clients meet their physical and rehabilitation goals.

"A few well designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence are worth hours of doing sloppy exercise or forced contortion" - Joseph Pilates

Why not speak to a Pilates Foundation Teacher to discuss how Pilates can help you? 

Getting Started in Pilates

As Pilates offers a new way of experiencing your body and movement, it can be difficult to understand, or even feel that anything is happening, at the beginning. This can be frustrating and many people may choose to go back to their normal routines rather than continue.

Here's a tip: commit to 10 classes, and you will never regret it!

It is important to find a teacher that you enjoy working with and a class that you can attend regularly (in terms of time, location, life demands and cost). This will help to make Pilates an integral part of your life, rather than just another exercise class added to your routine.

It is regular practice of Pilates that facilitates long-term changes to your body and lifestyle.

Regular Pilates practice develops body awareness, helping clients identify and change daily movement patterns that contribute to on-going dysfunction. Small habitual changes can make a big difference in alleviating chronic conditions.

"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness."  - Joseph Pilates

Why seek a Pilates Foundation Teacher?

  • Pilates Foundation Teachers are committed to maintaining the highest standards of teaching and practice of the Pilates Method.
  • PF Teachers are trained in the full classical repertoire (Joe Pilates' original series of exercises) as well as evolved approaches to the method that include anatomy and pathology, current bio-mechanical thinking and appropriate modifications to suit individual needs.
  • PF Teacher Trainers believe in the integrated nature of the Studio Apparatus and teach it as a complete body of work. The Pilates Foundation does not accredit modular training of the Studio Apparatus, unlike all other Pilates training organisations.
  • Matwork trainees study for a minimum of one year and Studio Apparatus courses require a minimum of one more year of study.
  • All PF training courses include extensive training in human anatomy and physiology, specialised conditions, classical and evolved approaches with respect for the history and principles of the method. This ensures that the integrity of the approach and the safety of the method are maintained.
  • PF Teachers are dedicated to continuing their learning. To maintain PF affiliation, members must undergo annual continued professional development and maintain first aid certification and liability insurance. Each member abides by a strict code of Ethics and Conduct.

With a Pilates Foundation Teacher, you are in safe hands.

Studio or Matwork?

Both Studio Apparatus and Matwork can facilitate profound changes in the body, when they are practiced holistically within the original principles and taught by a qualified Pilates Foundation Teacher.

Our comprehensively trained teachers undergo in depth study of the Pilates Method as a complete body of work, and their further training in working with specialised / chronic conditions allows them to join the register of NHSTA Complementary Health Pracitioners.

Pilates can be taught in a specialised Pilates studio or in an open area with mats and small equipment. Both Studio Apparatus and Matwork can be taught privately or in small groups, most classes last between 60-90 minutes.

What Type of Pilates is best for me?

The broad variety of exercises available allow for Pilates sessions to be tailored to each client's individual needs. Certain medical and rehabilitation conditions require studio apparatus sessions. Your Pilates Foundation Teacher will be happy to advise you on your individual needs.
Studio classes tend to be more expensive than group Matwork classes as a dedicated space is required and greater individual attention is usually provided.
In some ways Matwork classes can be more advanced, as there is no apparatus to support the movement; it is your body working against gravity that provides the biggest challenge in a Matwork class.
Choosing a class that is convenient for you to participate on a regular basis in terms of time, location and cost should be considered.

Working harder is often not the goal of a Pilates class. It is through thoughtful, precise movement practice that habitual patterns can significantly change and the benefits of the method are felt.

Studio Apparatus

Must be practiced in a specialised Pilates Apparatus studio; apparatus utilises spring loaded resistance, gravity and movement to assist or challenge the body as required to perform the exercises.
Studio classes often offer a higher level of individual attention; classes are taught either one-to-one or in small groups of up to 6 clients.
Apparatus sessions are particularly helpful in rehabilitating injury, aiding with specialised conditions and reaching specific training goals. The support available from the apparatus facilitates the ability to target very specific muscle groups that can be difficult to identify without the apparatus feedback.
Traditional studio apparatus are called: the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair and the Ladder Barrel. Both Matwork and Apparatus based sessions utilise various pieces of small equipment and props that are useful in promoting long lasting results.


Matwork classes don't require a dedicated space in which to teach them; Matwork is taught in local halls, dance, fitness or health centres, or in-office and at-home, it can also be practiced as homework.
Matwork can be taught on a one-to-one or small group basis, but it is the availability (and cheaper cost) of the larger Matwork classes that has helped Pilates gain in popularity around the world over the past 10 years. Ideally Matwork classes are no larger than 15 students, to ensure personal attention can be provided.

Matwork exercises are performed in various positions a mat, sometimes using small pieces of equipment (balls, blocks, bands, chairs, etc) to assist or challenge the body as needed.

Open Matwork classes are taught to a more general audience, than the personalised attention that can be given in a one-to-one, small group or studio environment.

The History of Pilates

Far more than a recent fitness craze, Pilates has been developed and practiced since the 1920's when Joseph and Clara Pilates opened their 'Body Conditioning Gym' in New York City.

The Joseph Pilates Story

Joseph Pilates was born near Düsseldorf, Germany in 1883. Little is known about his early life, but he appears to have been a frail child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His drive and determination to overcome these ailments led him to become a competent gymnast, diver and skier.

In 1912 Pilates lived in England working as a circus performer, boxer and self-defence instructor. During the First World War, he was interned with other German nationals. During this time he developed his technique of physical fitness further, by teaching his fellow internees. During the latter part of the War, he served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man where he worked with patients unable to walk. He attached bed springs to the hospital beds to help support the patients' limbs, leading to the development of his famous piece of equipment known as the 'Cadillac'. Much of his equipment, although slightly adapted, is still in use today in many Pilates Studios.

Pilates emigrated to the USA in the early 1920s with his wife Clara, and together they developed and taught the method in their 'body-conditioning gym' in New York in 1926.

The studio featured much of the Apparatus designed to enhance his rehabilitation work. It soon became very popular, particularly with the dance community, as it offered a chance to improve technique or recover from injury. Word spread quickly and many celebrities of the day visited his studio. These included dance legends such as Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine and Martha Graham, as well as the actor Jose Ferrer and the author Christopher Isherwood. Originally 60% of the clientele were men.

In 1932 Pilates published a booklet called 'Your Health' and followed this with another called 'Return to Life Through Contrology' in 1945. Through these writings and his students, his method was passed on after his death in 1967 at the age of 83. During his lifetime this method of exercise was called Contrology. It was only after his death that it became known as the Pilates Method.

While Joe is the man behind the method, it was his wife Clara that became the real teacher in the studio and allowed the method to be passed on to apprentices. The 'Pilates Elders' (the handful of people who trained directly in the first NY Studio) talk of Clara being the nurturing force behind the man; Clara established the tradition of evolving and adapting the Pilates method to suit the individual needs of clients. This is a tradition Pilates Foundation Teachers are proud to continue.

Not much was spoken in the original studio (English was not Joe's first language), so Joe and Clara relied heavily on hands-on corrections to teach the method. "They wouldn't talk, they would sculpt you" is how Pilates Elder Mary Bowen describes being in the studio. The Pilates Foundation is proud to promote the traditon of hands-on teaching skills in our Teachers.


Principles of Pilates

Joe Pilates based his work on three principles: Breath, whole-body health and whole-body commitment; with the whole-body incompassing mind, body and spirit.

It is in the honouring of the Pilates Principles that the depth of the work is achieved. These Principles are traditionally cited as:

  • Breath
  • Concentration
  • Centring
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Flow

"Above all, learn how to breathe correctly." - Joseph Pilates

Evolution of Pilates

Through the years the Pilates Method has gradually evolved and integrated current bio-mechanical thinking, including utilising modern pieces of equipment. However, the roots of the technique are steeped in the philosophy and movement patterns designed by Joseph Pilates over 90 years ago. Today his core method is still taught, as well as an evolved form integrating modern anatomical and bio-mechanical thinking by teachers of the Pilates Foundation.

The popularity of the Pilates Method has spread steadily since the day when Pilates first opened his studio. Pilates has now become a worldwide phenomenon with over 12 million people practicing, and the numbers continue to grow due to its effectiveness and adaptability.

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